Wait…. what? It’s 2013?!?! Let’s celebrate turning a new leaf of a beginning of a new year and just the gift of seeing another year come with family and friends. There is just something purifying about a new start isn’t there? I celebrated with my friends and boyfriend near home. We kept it low key, but it did give me an excuse to make healthy treats! I chose my fruit & cilantro salsa and a fluffy pudding and berry dessert. Soon after the celebration was over, my vacation was over and it was back to traveling for me! I was thrilled to begin the year heading to Orlando for the AMTC-SHINE Convention for which I was invited to be a guest speaker. This is the convention I competed in back in 2010 to be scouted by FORD Models. Since then, my life has been forever changed.
AMTC stands for Actors Models and Talent for Christ. The non-profit convention consists of several seminars to teach young and aspiring actors and models about ways to keep their faith while pursuing their dreams in the entertainment industry. My job was to speak as someone who competed and is now working in the industry. I spoke in two different seminars where the students were allowed to ask various questions. I HIGHLY recommend this convention for anyone interested in modeling, acting, singling, dancing, or any type of job in the entertainment industry. Other people who are AMTC alums include the country singer Chris Young, Ben Davies of Courageous, Army Wives’ Noree Victoria, Megan Fox, and many more! Visit www.AMTCWORLD.com to find out more.
Some of the questions I was asked included:
“What are you daily rituals to stay close to God? “ – I answered by describing my daily devotional – Jesus Calling (highly recommended!!!) which is tattered and torn from carrying it with me as I travel each week. However, I purposely bring it with me when I travel not to make myself look good, but in hopes of starting a conversation with a stranger in order to introduce them to Jesus. It has happened several times and gives me an easy opening on a subject that isn’t always easy to bring up. Another question was…
“Have you ever witnessed to other people you know became Christians?” – my response to this question was my story about a girl who was from another country who didn’t know about Jesus or Christianity very well at all. I met her while I was shooting for Kohls one day. She described how she didn’t like the rules it requires us to follow. I get very nervous when needing to witness to someone simply because I know my words could have a major impact on them. It is a lot of responsibility representing the Christian heart around people who have been turned off from God. I tried my hardest to explain that Christianity isn’t about just about “the rules,” but it’s about the relationship with Jesus and accepting his ultimate sacrifice. This reminds me of the song titled “The motions” which refers to Christians who get so caught up in the act of do this don’t do that that they forget the most important factor – do they know Jesus? For Jesus said: “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!” Matthew 7:21-23.
So yes! It is important do do his will, but he must also KNOW US as your best friend knows you. It’s important to have the relationship with him as you do anyone you care for and put effort into maintaining a relationship with in your life.
Although I haven’t seen that girl I witnessed to since, I just hope I made a difference. I am working on not getting nervous as I witness to others because God says to let him talk through you. He also says to let your actions speak the loud.
Another question someone asked me in the seminar was: “How do you stay pure in this industry when people push you so far?” – I described the importance of letting your agents know how far you will go and what you won’t do when it comes to shoots, acting, and anything else. I also spoke about having that one person you trust to guide you in the right path when sticky situations arise– because they will. I described my story of doing just this when I called my mother agent Nise Davies from Tennessee. After speaking with her I have had a clear understanding since about what I consider okay and what I don’t when it comes to work. (Any aspiring models/actors wanting further advise on where to draw the lines in such gray industry – find me on modeledbymaria FB page and message me! I’d be happy to help and supply further details of my story!) Overall, I have been truly blessed with FORD who totally understands me, and puts me as a person opposed to a source of income, first. I will never forget when I was competing at AMTC and the FORD scout – Shannon – said herself in a seminar “don’t let this industry become WHO you are, it is just what you DO.” I strive to never forget that, and I honestly think that is the reason why I have any success that I do have today.
I was supposed to be teaching aspiring actors and models about God and this industry, and I sure hope I did. However, I left the sunshine state being so inspired myself from all of them. My eyes were opened to how blessed I am to be working in this industry and having the job that I do have. I also was reminded of the importance of shining God’s light on other people in the industry, and to not take that lightly. “For who knows that you have not come to a royal position for such a time as this?”-Esther 4:14.
The new year continued on wonderfully from AMTC with several flight changes in order to go directly from Orlando to Dallas to shoot for JCP (JcPenny). I shoot swimsuits for their website. Although it may seem like the dead of winter to you, swim season is in full force here in the modeling world to prepare Spring ads. I love shooting there because the studio has the southern hospitality just like home back in KY, yet it still has the big city feel. I had to take a picture when I saw water served in Mason glass jars . From Dallas I went back north, bypassing home, to Chicago to shoot for one of my favorite and most family-like clients of all time – Sears. It is never a boring day in that studio due to how much the stylists, photographers, and hair/makeup artists make me feel at home. Finally, I flew back to KY after several days on the road in order to have a few more days at home before hitting the road again. Although many people would complain about days on the road, I simply love traveling and truly enjoyed starting the year off this busy. My hope is that it continues strong and that this is the best year yet!!
Lastly – just so you can hold me accountable… my new year resolutions:
1. Blog MORE!!!!! (I haven’t decreased my traveling or photo-shoots… just let holidays and finals get the best of me and my time!)
2. Live slower – allowing more time before having to leave the house to not rush so much. I’m also only taking 2 classed for my online grad school this semester in order to keep my sanity with traveling. This increased tie included increased time before passing out in bed in order to get my personal-God & me & maintaining the relationship time in.
3. Be on time more – okay…see? I admitted it…. it isn’t always traffic’s fault
4. Attempt doing more yoga and eating more organically – going along wit my overall goal of slower/more relaxed living
5. Don’t let traveling be an excuse to not be more actively involved at church opposed to just attending Sunday services.
6. Never take a day for granted and remember life is all about relationships with those around me – it’s important to nourish them adequately!
For help meeting ay health related new years goals you have click on the sub-categories of entrees, desserts, and snacks to find indulgent recipes made healthy etc at http://www.modeledbymaria.com/health-and-fitness-2/
For 4 days last week I filmed a commercial for a store called Bon Ton. Bon Ton is a major store that carries the most fashionable brands such as Jessica Simpson, Michael Kors, and etc. You may know Bon Ton by the name of “Carsons.” The commercial was booked through my Ford – Chicago, Models (my Chicago agency) and was also recorded in various touristy locations in downtown Chicago. Tuesday morning, (and I do mean morning, having to wake up at 5 am), I flew into Chicago for my fitting. During the fitting I tried on various clothes as the stylists made sure every look was put together perfectly with the best accessories and shoes. There was also a seamstress on board who pinned my clothes as needed in order to fit them to look their best. After my fitting I was released to spend my time as I’d like. Naturally, I decided to go straight to the gorgeous downtown hotel that they booked and nap! I felt much better after my nap, but little did I know the next two days of filming would include getting up again at 5 am to be picked up from the hotel at 5:15. This seems very strenuous, and by the end of the week I was feeling the strain. However, it honestly wasn’t too bad because the crew was so light hearted and upbeat. Additionally, the always had food ready for us including a huge breakfast. Any of you that know me well, know that I’ll do about anything for a good breakfast – my favorite part of the day.
The crew was incredibly prepared and professional so each shot only took very little time. The first day I had 5 different outfits to model, and the second day I had four. The last day I had one full outfit as well as shoes to model. It was my first time modeling shoes, and it wasn’t near as easy as I would have imagined. Apparently I can’t tell when my feet are pointing straight or not . The production company had every move of the recording planned down to each second. There was a schedule printed with the pre-decided locations, an inspiration photo, a photo of the actual location, and a photo of me wearing the clothing at the fitting. To the side, there were notes about how my hair should be styled. The crew consisted of a videographer, about 6 men to do lighting and set up, a director who guided each model, hair and makeup artists, Matt who kept everything on schedule, and Barb from Bon Ton who is an incredibly classy lady very similar to Michelle Obama. I was astonished upon seeing the time and effort put into this shoot before the models had even arrived!
Although there was a director, the models were still able to ‘ad lib’ as they thought appropriate which always makes for a more natural shot. For example, after filming my flowing skirt outfit on the steps of the Contemporary Art Museum downtown, the cameras were turned off and I left the set by walking down the steps. Bard liked the way the skirt flowed as I bounced down the steps because I was in a silly mood. Therefore, she asked me to do it again, but this time with the cameras on. One of my favorite, but most difficult shots was when I was walking a Great Dane while wearing a red dress and heels. This dog was awesome! He was incredibly, incredibly strong. The very first take was something that should be submitted to a funny blooper show. As I was pulled along by the dog, I passed the thin area between a light pole and the ‘extras’which required trying to guide Bo, the Great Dane, to scoot over and make more room for me to pass. When I walk my cocker spaniel at home, I just have to walk slightly right or left and Cali follows. Bo didn’t react in such a way. It was more like trying to push over a brick wall! As I attempted to fit in the tight space, I wobbled on my heels beside Bo while Bo’s owner who was out of the scene but in front of us was backing up too quickly and tumbled completely over the light post causing him to fall to the ground and do what appeared to be a backwards somersault. Another take included Bo twisting his leash around the light post as I tried to steer him straight. I’m curious to see how that part of the final commercial comes out. I have a feeling they will opt to use the film of me walking the smaller, gray, Great Dane. Hopefully there wasn’t slobber on my dress in that take! Another funny take was when I was pretending to hail a taxi. In real life, my past record of success hailing taxis is not good. However, despite the huge camera, camera crew, and even the guy holding the umbrella over my head, taxis wouldn’t stop coming to the curb. The point was for me to wave down the taxis; we didn’t necessarily want me getting in one. Even though the taxi drivers may not have realized what was up, the people on the street did and therefore a crowd formed which caused people to ask the make-up artists ‘if they know me.’ They thought I was someone famous. Ha! I eventually tried to let the hair and makeup artist allow me hold the umbrella over my head myself as I am just not into the ‘high-maintenance’ appearance that having someone hold it for me was giving off. Maybe that’s just the Kentucky girl in me, but I didn’t mind holding it myself.
Although I have shot a few commercials for dress stores and etc., I learned a lot about the time that goes into commercials to get the desired, professional final production. A commercial is so quick with each section passing by in a matter or seconds so it’s easy to underestimate the effort behind each shot. I will never look at commercials the same now that I’ve experienced sitting on one set for an hour as the crew adjusted the lighting and objects in the background to get the set-up to appear just they way they wanted it. I also have been reminded how much I love acting. I just appreciate the ability to add personality to my work. I suppose it in a way reminds me of pageants. After other models said they could tell I have some acting experience and have taken lessons, I’m thinking God may be leading me toward acting for a reason. Hmm…. Maybe this is something I should really focus on Regardless, I’m looking forward to hopefully working with Bon Ton again soon. I was asked to come up this next week for a catalog shoot, but due to it being my last week to babysit the kids, I’ve decided to take a full week at home in order to be there for them.
I considered not including this next story in the blog because this post is getting pretty lengthy. However, since if I was ever in a pageant again and was asked about my most embarrassing moment, this would be it! During one of the nights after I got off work from the commercial, I decided to go to the hotel’s gym. I had just got back from Whole Foods which is one of my most favorite places (I know, I’m such a dork!) and was heading back up to the room. However, when I got on the elevator, the doors shut as I noticed the button for my floor wasn’t lighting up after I pushed it. I tried to push it again, and it still failed to light. So, I tried several other floors because I really don’t like sitting in a still elevator and was eager to do anything to get moving. Still… nothing happened. So I decided to resort to the ‘open door’ button, which again didn’t bring any response. So, very unlike me, I freaked! I threw down my bag of dinner and tried with all my might to pry open the doors. After straining some muscles, I realized they weren’t budging. So, I went to my last resort of pushing the ‘help’ button. As I waited for a response the elevator beeped and showed the number of the current floor increasing although I couldn’t feel the motion of it at all. So, I thought it was going crazy! Finally, an extremely and overly calm man answered the phone, and said something like ‘what’s up,’ which I thought was strange for someone in a position to help people who are ready to have a heart attack like I was. Suddenly, as I shouting so he could hear me explain that I was stuck, the doors opened on the top floor to a private dinner. Apparently someone there had pushed the button. When I mean to the dinner, I don’t mean the elevators were around the corner from the formal affair. I mean the elevator doors are right smack dab directly in view of this ballroom filled with wine-and-diners. Regardless that I was in my workout clothes, I jumped off the elevator as quickly as I could, causing many heads to turn toward the random girl in sweats. Not only was I WAY underdressed, but I was still shouting at the man of the intercom so he could hear me convince him that I was okay now. Additionally, I was speaking with the man who was getting on the elevator who was trying to calm me down and tell me that it was ok and that I wasn’t stuck. Eventually he convinced me that it was okay and I decided to get back on as I was still shouting at the man on the intercom, and rode down with the comforting employee of the hotel. Apparently, the people at the front desk aren’t kidding when they tell you that you must slide your key before activating the elevator. Maybe that’s why the ’help’ man was so calm, he must get those calls all the time.